work has been very quiet for the last week or so, and it turns me into a ball of anxious energy, just waiting to escape my desk; i've even started doing some baking at work, having found that as long as i share the final product, no one seems to mind me bustling around the kitchen. monday night i hurried home from work with a project in mind: making butter.
the times posted a diy handbook recently that really got me thinking about all the from-scratch projects i've been wanting to try but putting off. now that there's no wedding planning to distract me, i plan on tackling a lot of these.
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morel mushroom sweet cream butter
1 fresh morel mushroom
1/2 t butter (for sauteing morel)
2 cups heavy whipping cream
truffle salt, to taste
i had a friend in high school whose family gathered morels from secret locations, and i've always been fascinated with this gorgeous little mushroom. (rumor has it they grow wild in some nyc parks. . . july through september, audrey leary becomes the fungus fighter, morel hunter extraordinaire!) i picked one up at dean and deluca on my lunch break, determined to make the most of it. to wash morels, you have to do something that goes against every mushroom-washing instinct i've got - dunk it in a bowl of water and shake and shake it until sediment comes out. the honeycomb like cap just traps dirt and it's the only way to get it good and clean. once you're satisfied it's de-dirtied, immediately chop it up and throw it in a saucepan with your tiny pat of butter, sauteing on low heat until it's soft and dark brown.
so! prepare a pitcher of ice water, then put your cream in a mixer or food processor and whip it until it gets very stiff peaks. and then keep whipping. it'll start looking kinda curdled. KEEP WHIPPING. it'll start to separate. GOOD! keep whipping! until it's pretty stiff and buttery and there's lots of buttermilk separated out.
strain out and save the buttermilk (i used it later for biscuits.) now rinse the butter in a sieve with that ice water until the water runs totally clear. it's important you use ice water so the butter doesn't melt down the drain. rinsing it will keep it from going bad quickly.
now, take that butter and put it in a blender (or use your immersion blender, like i did.) add salt and your morels and pulse; add salt until you're satisfied with its saltiness, and the butter is speckled and doesn't have anymore big mushroom chunks. ta-da! delicious mushroom butter.
i made this butter the same night as the egg cup custards, and decided to make a really simple pasta with some noodles sam and i picked up on our honeymoon, in curaçao.
fun with food!
all i did for this pasta was boil the noodles (duh) steam and then char some baby artichokes in chicken stock, and make a chiffonade of basil leaves, and toss it all together with salt, pepper, and the morel butter.
voila! this pasta managed to be both light and rich; the morels come through beautifully on the noodles, and the basil helps keep it fresh and not too heavy.
enjoy! my apologies for the overload of food pics. . . i'm having a love affair with my camera these days and i'm bad at editing myself.